Date of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


General Engineering

Committee Chair

Jack Skinner

First Advisor

Brahmananda Pramanik

Second Advisor

Katie Hailer


Conductive polymer nanocomposites are a type of particle reinforced plastic composite where the doping material is electrically conductive. The diverse properties of an engineered composite material allow for the material properties to be fine-tuned for the specific application. This research focuses on using carbon allotropes, such as two-dimensional graphene and one-dimensional carbon nanotubes, to achieve direct current electrical conductivity through a polymer fiber. Melt electrospinning is the process used for creating the micrometer scale fibers by melting thermoplastic materials. High electrostatic fields apply a force to the polymer melt and a single fiber is drawn out. The resistivity of the bulk composite and composite fibers were characterized by four-point probe and van der Pauw resistivity measurements. Other material characterization methods such as X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy were used to determine particle size and distribution in the polymer matrix. Several different polymers were used as the matrix material. Originally, the majority of the research focused on relatively low molecular weight varieties of polypropylene. Later, additional polymer samples of recycled polypropylene, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate were supplied in collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory. Premade polypropylene and carbon nanotube composite material were supplied by Sandia National Laboratories and Virginia Tech. The graphene composites utilized polypropylene and polystyrene as the matrix material, and were made at Montana Tech. Recycled polyethylene terephthalate was used to create filament for rapid prototype machines.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in General Engineering